Waveland building official suspended

Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo confirmed Friday that the city’s chief building official and recovery coordinator Brent Anderson has been suspended.

Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said Anderson’s suspension came about after he gave unauthorized, yet positive, comments last week to the media about the reopening of the Garfield Ladner Pier.

Longo said he was not allowed to divulge specifics of the suspension, but said there was a lot more to the story.

“There were actually five items,” Longo said. “They are a lot of things going on that are a detriment to the city. I cannot give any more comments because it is a personnel issue.”

Waveland City Attorney Zach Butterworth said Thursday the matter will be discussed next week in executive session.

“Its a personnel matter,” Butterworth said. “I would prefer to not make any comments right now. We will have a meeting early next week about it, but it will be in executive session.”

Last week, the mayor and board of aldermen announced that the Garfield Ladner Pier would be reopened in April.

The Echo and other media did stories on the reopening of the pier and used quotes from Anderson.

Longo was reached by phone on Monday for comments on the Echo’s story, but he was unable to give a tour of the pier.

Anderson, who has given numerous interviews about recovery projects over the past year, guided the Echo on a tour of the pier and commented on the project.

He was apparently suspended the next day.

Anderson has worked for the city for more than a decade. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, he was a patrol officer and narcotics investigator.

After the storm, he resigned to pursue other business opportunities.

He was later hired as building official and recovery coordinator.

His job description includes overseeing recovery projects such as the Ladner pier.

Butterworth declined to answer whether the city had a written policy stating department heads were not allowed to speak to the media.

Anderson was not at work Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday this week.

When reached by phone Thursday, he declined comment.

Sources close to city hall said that Anderson was suspended by City Clerk Lisa Planchard and Longo with the blessing of Ward Two Alderman Ricky Geoffrey and Ward Three Alderman Brian Schmitt.

Geoffrey, Schmitt, and Planchard did not return phone calls by press time Friday.

Ward Four Alderman Charles Piazza and Ward One Alderman Lili Stahler said Thursday they had not been informed of the suspension.

Longo said Anderson has filed a grievance under the city’s civil service policy and the next step is to conduct a hearing.

After the hearing, the board of aldermen will decide whether to uphold Aderson’s suspension or overturn it, officials said.

The discussion will be held in executive session, but any action must be made taken in public.

BY: Dwayne Bremer

The Sea Coast Echo

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